Help me stop forgetting my apartment keys
April 18, 2009 9:58 AM   Subscribe

What is a sure-fire way to stop forgetting my keys when I leave the apartment? I've locked myself out three times this week already. Do you have any memory tricks or something similar that you employ to stop this from happening?
posted by schroedinger to Grab Bag (51 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
My trick is to keep my keys in my pocket. That way I only forget them if I'm not wearing pants.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:00 AM on April 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Keys, wallet, cell phone put in the same place (basket/bowl/shelf) in the apartment, and you don't pick up one without picking up the other 2. You enter apartment, you place the 3 items there, you exit the apartment, you pick the 3 items up.
posted by iamabot at 10:01 AM on April 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Hang the keys on a chain on the front door so that when you reach for the door knob, the keys are right in your face.

We have our keys on hooks to the immediate left of the front door.
posted by musofire at 10:03 AM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, keep a set of spare keys outside of the house. I have a set of spare keys in my parka's inner pocket. I never use them, except when I forget my regular keys.
posted by musofire at 10:04 AM on April 18, 2009


Why don't you make a habit out of locking the front door when you walk in? That way, you need your keys to leave your appartment.
posted by NekulturnY at 10:07 AM on April 18, 2009


What worked for me was getting a chain to hook my keys to my belt-loop. When I get dressed, I transfer wallet and keys from yesterday's pants to today's pants. I don't leave the apartment without wearing pants, so it works pretty well.

Hiding a key outside has also worked for me in the past. Hide it outside a neighbor's house or apartment instead of right next to your own place.
posted by trip and a half at 10:08 AM on April 18, 2009


I hang my keys on a hook by the door, so I see as I walk out the door whether I have them with me. I put them back on the hook as soon as I walk in the door.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:08 AM on April 18, 2009


nthing keys on a hook. It's not foolproof--if I come home, say, a little tipsy, they'll often end up buried in my purse. But it definitely helps.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:12 AM on April 18, 2009


Well, slight misdirect here: I'm not going to help you stop forgetting your keys; I'm going to make it obvious, painless, and easily corrected when you do forget your keys.

Never lock your door as you are exiting.

Instead, lock your door immediately after you exit. From the outside. With your key.
posted by Flunkie at 10:16 AM on April 18, 2009 [20 favorites]


My keys are attached to my wallet via a keyring on the zip fastener. The end result is bulky, to be sure, but the keys don't get forgotten unless the whole thing gets forgotten, which is harder to do. My Oystercard (travelcard) is also attached to my wallet. If I could but join my phone, ipod and little Moleskine diary to it too, my life would be entirely untroubled.
posted by Acheman at 10:20 AM on April 18, 2009


There are deadbolts that can only be turned by a key from either side (i.e. they don't have a knob on the inside part of the door, just another slot for the key exactly like the one on the outside of the door) - if your door can facilitate one of these, simply find it at home depot or your local locksmith.

Then, every time you come in the house, lock the door behind you and simply leave the keys dangling there in the lock. That way you can't leave the house without actually touching the keys to unlock the deadbolt, and it'll be pretty hard to forget them when they're already in your hand.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:23 AM on April 18, 2009


I had this exact same problem with my dorm room. The door was self-locking, so I was always screwed if I absentmindedly shut the door behind me. I locked myself out about three times in two weeks.

My solution was to put a REALLY BIG SIGN with REALLY BIG, BOLD LETTERS in REALLY RED INK that said, "ElectricBlue, DID YOU REMEMBER YOUR KEYS?!"

There were plenty of times that, when I saw the sign, I had to mentally scold myself. "Why, no! I don't have my keys! That's a problem, isn't it?" But the sign always refreshed my memory before I left the dorm.

As a second precaution, I also hung up my keys on a special key-rack. Usually, I'd see the sign, pat my pockets for my "missing" keys, then see them hanging on the rack.

I didn't lock myself out again. And the constant reminder has served me well in my new apartment (also self-locking). I got so used to seeing that stupid sign that I always ask myself, "DID YOU REMEMBER YOUR KEYS?!"
posted by ElectricBlue at 10:23 AM on April 18, 2009


Install locks that require a key to lock from either side. So then you have to have your key to lock your apartment.
posted by Flood at 10:24 AM on April 18, 2009


You're not going to hide a spare key outside your apartment--that's just silly. Flunkie has a great idea there, and I've had to do that in some places just because of the lock type.

A friend wears her key on a lanyard around her neck at all times because she's just that ditzy. She also uses a bracelet and the keys end up being charms or something. It seems a lot of women's clothing seem to not have any pockets or space anywhere for carrying ANYTHING, which I find stupid.

Someone else I know keeps his car and house keys tied to his wallet, which for some reason he never forgets (and yet he forgets his keys).
posted by Ky at 10:25 AM on April 18, 2009


Ah, it might be good to mention that the sign was taped onto the offending door. :)
posted by ElectricBlue at 10:25 AM on April 18, 2009


I use a Pavlovian trick: I jingle my keys before I shut the door. Sounds dumb, and it takes a little while to get yourself trained, but it worked for me. If I don't hear a jingle, my brain perks up and notices something's wrong.

(This habit is so ingrained that I still do it, though I've lived in with a key-operated deadbolt for years now. I cannot lock myself out anymore. Still, I jingle my keys ever so slightly when I leave the house, which conveniently means that even when my partner and I leave at the same time, if he's using his keys to lock up, I know I have mine with me.)
posted by Elsa at 10:32 AM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used to do exactly this. I trained myself to, when I opened the door, to run through a quick mental checklist: wallet/Pilot/pager/keys. I always made sure I had all four before I closed the door. Wallet-Pilot-pager-keys BEFORE the door closes. Open door, wallet-Pilot-pager-keys, close door. Every single time, without fail.

It took about two weeks to train myself, and I never forgot any of those things again, ever.

A decade later, when I no longer wear a watch, a pager, or carry a Pilot, I STILL do it. And I still don't forget my keys when I leave.

Habit can be a powerful tool.
posted by Malor at 10:33 AM on April 18, 2009


Never lock your door as you are exiting.
Instead, lock your door immediately after you exit. From the outside. With your key.


Yup. For what it's worth, I never lock any door by turning the little switch on the doorknob - this has kept it from becoming an automatic habit for me and makes it necessary to use my door key to lock the door when I leave.

When I've spent time in places with an automatically locking door, I will force myself to stop as I'm leaving and look back into the room to check that I haven't forgotten anything. I do this even if I'm sure that I have everything (because that's when you don't). Create a habit and do it methodically every time and you will screw up a lot less often.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:37 AM on April 18, 2009


If this becomes a problem long term, consider setting your apartment up with locks that need to be locked with a key from the outside when the door is closed: in my apartment, locking the door from the inside with it open will cause the door to be unable to close (the deadbolt protrudes), and thus to lock the door when I leave I must take my keys with me outside the apartment.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:41 AM on April 18, 2009


I keep my keys on a short, but heavy, chain hooked to a beltloop. The only place I don't wear it is at my desk. I can take about 3 steps without them before my pockets feel a little too light.
posted by HFSH at 10:45 AM on April 18, 2009


the plus side being, if I'm drunk enough to forget my keys, I'm too drunk to remove them from my pants. If I'm drunk enought to forget my pants, then forgetting my keys is the least of my problems.
posted by HFSH at 10:48 AM on April 18, 2009


Keep keys on something that can be hung around the doorknob or lock.

Also, I keep a spare set of housekeys in my desk at work, for emergencies.
posted by decathecting at 10:49 AM on April 18, 2009


I have a clip I use to hook my keys to my belt loop, the same belt loop every time. I carry few enough keys that they're inconspicuous, and I always have them.
posted by hermitosis at 10:50 AM on April 18, 2009


Keep a spare in a lock box on your outside doorknob.
posted by debbie_ann at 10:52 AM on April 18, 2009


lock box
posted by debbie_ann at 10:52 AM on April 18, 2009


I use this Stationary Push Button Lock Box mounted on the frame of my front door. I got it at Lowe's/Home Depot for ~25 bucks. Works great!
posted by torquemaniac at 11:02 AM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been having some short term memory issues and almost locked myself out, only to find that my keys were in my pocket and not in my purse, where they should be.

Since then, I have to LOOK AT my keys before I close the door to my apartment. Even if I know I just put them in my bag. Even if they're in my hand. I LOOK at them before closing the door. My door locks automatically when shut, so locking it *with* the key isn't an option, but that is also a method that's worked for me in the past.

Haven't locked myself out yet.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:08 AM on April 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a credit card case with a keychain attached-- the unisex kind that come in sturdy canvas and sold by most university gift stores. This way, I can't forget my credit cards or my keys. Problem completely cured.
posted by vincele at 11:17 AM on April 18, 2009


If you wear glasses and need them to function, hook the keychain onto your glasses--the bit that rests on the ears--when you go to bed. Then, in the morning, move the keys to whatever bag you're using that day. It's how I keep from forgetting my watch everyday.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 11:21 AM on April 18, 2009


Besides locking the door from the outside, wrap a rubber band or three around the door knob on the inside. (A length of tape will also work.) When you go to leave you'll grab the doorknob, say "What the hell is thi-- oh, right. My keys."

If you wear the same pair of shoes every day, keep your keys in one of them.

Put a hook right on the door for your keys. Not only will you see them, but they'll jingle as you open the door to remind you.

Attach them physically to something that you do remember every day. (wallet, phone, nose, etc.)

Put a bell and a lead fishing weight on your key chain. Then you'll have both a weight and an auditory reminder that you have your keys with you. If you generally carry them in your pocket, don't put anything else in that pocket so you can easily tell if you've got your keys.

Get a key buddy that you don't like very much or who lives across town so you'll feel extra badly every time you forget.

The "keeping a second key outside" never worked for me because I'd never return the key after I used it once.
posted by Ookseer at 11:27 AM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I use a wallet chain a a key chain because it is long enough that I don't have to remove it from my trousers to unlock the door, the last feature being the important. It's also big and heavy enough that it makes a lot of noise when I put it down if I do take it off for any reason, so no getting distracted and vagueing it out.
posted by tallus at 11:31 AM on April 18, 2009


I can't change my self-locking doors in my apartment complex, and a lot of people can't.

I have a big hook by the door, at eye level. It's one of those 3-M ones rated for several pounds. I come home, keys - and keys only - go there. I leave, I grab my keys.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:31 AM on April 18, 2009


You're not going to hide a spare key outside your apartment--that's just silly.

That's exactly what I do. There were enough times that I'd just step outside to do something and find myself locked out that I just had to do this.
posted by jessamyn at 11:32 AM on April 18, 2009


There are deadbolts that can only be turned by a key from either side
Not to derail, but these are a a bad idea and a violation of code in a lot of places.

posted by god hates math at 11:33 AM on April 18, 2009


Get this door mat.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:41 AM on April 18, 2009


I don't have this problem with my apartment (have to lock on the outside) but certainly did for my car. I don't want to have the hassle or risk scratching the paint more by always locking the door from the outside, but before closing the car door I do always make sure the keys are IN MY HAND.

So, do not close your door if your keys are not in your hand is my advice.
posted by mrt at 12:01 PM on April 18, 2009


I always lock things using my keys, or holding them in one hand outside so I can see them.

But -- what has worked much better for me -- I always have a really enormous keyring, with lots of crap on it. Impossible to forget something that big.
posted by jeather at 12:16 PM on April 18, 2009


Jeather has it. You cannot lock yourself out if you always lock your door from outside using the key.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:26 PM on April 18, 2009


There are deadbolts that can only be turned by a key from either side (i.e. they don't have a knob on the inside part of the door, just another slot for the key exactly like the one on the outside of the door) - if your door can facilitate one of these, simply find it at home depot or your local locksmith.

If it is a deadbolt it doesn't matter if the inside has a knob to turn; you can't close a door with a deadbolt if it is in the "lock" position; if you can it's an improperly designed deadbolt.

But you're right that a deadbolt is the solution.

OP: I'm assuming your apartment door has a deadbolt since I've never seen an apartment without one these days. The answer is simple; never lock the doorknob, only lock the deadbolt. Since you need the keys to lock the deadbolt from the outside you can't ever lock them inside the apartment. Presto, problem solved.

If for some odd reason you don't have a deadbolt, have one installed since you should have one anyway. But I can't imagine an apartment without a deadbolt.
posted by Justinian at 12:42 PM on April 18, 2009


I keep a spare car key in my wallet, and a spare apartment key in my car. If you don't want to involve your car, you could keep just an apartment key in your wallet. Assuming you never leave without it.
posted by seiryuu at 1:52 PM on April 18, 2009


I've tried almost all of the suggestions above and I still lock myself out on a regular basis. My solution was to become really good at breaking and entering.
posted by fshgrl at 3:12 PM on April 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't change my self-locking doors in my apartment complex, and a lot of people can't.

Really? I've lived in a lot of places with "automatic" doors, and they all have a switch in the short side of the door that can be flipped to make it key-lock only.

Anyway, I go past the hook by putting my keys on a ribbon and hanging them from the doorknob. It's the only place I ever put them and I do it right when I walk in. Another plus is it makes them easier to find in my bag.
posted by dame at 3:36 PM on April 18, 2009


I went through a phase of locking myself out multiple times a week. I complained about it to a friend, who said "well, just make sure you have your keys before you close the door." This will sound silly and unbelievable, but I stopped locking myself out after that.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:48 PM on April 18, 2009


Whatever you do alway do it the same way and in the same order.
"If you don't have a good memory, you have to have good habits."
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:56 PM on April 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


For me, it's solved by compulsively patting my pocket before I leave the house, to make sure I have my keys.

It also helped that: 1) Years ago, when I locked myself out in college, the RA was pissed off that I woke her up early in the morning to unlock my apartment. 2) A neighbor recently locked himself out and said that the lock company was charging $216 to unlock it for him. I don't wanna piss people off or waste money, so I compulsively check for my keys.
posted by wastelands at 9:54 PM on April 18, 2009


I keep my keys clipped, with a carabiner, to my belt loop. My keys are therefore always in one of two places: at my waist, attached to my current pants; on the belt loop of the pants I was wearing yesterday. (Well, or in my hand as I'm using them, or in the car's ignition.)

Since all of my other pocket stuff (wallet, cellphone, etc.) is also in my pants, it's pretty difficult for me to walk out the door without getting my stuff. My pants don't weigh enough or feel right.

I also suggest compulsively checking for the continued existence of your gear. For instance, I pretty much can't walk out of any doorway without touching my keys.

The fundamental mistake you're making, though, is to think of your keys as "stuff" like a paperback or bb gun. Keys are clothing. Just like your wallet and cellphone. If you don't have those things, you're naked.
posted by Netzapper at 10:09 PM on April 18, 2009


I hang my keys on a hook by the door, so I see as I walk out the door whether I have them with me. I put them back on the hook as soon as I walk in the door.

Lot of folks recommending keeping your keys by the door, so I thought I should really point out that this often makes it really easy for your apartment to be burgled. If you have a mailbox in your door, you'd be surprised how easy it can be to use a long bit of wire or stick to hook the keys and drag them out.
posted by theyexpectresults at 11:38 PM on April 18, 2009


1. Give a copy of the key to a friend who lives in walking distance and whom you could conceivably wake at three in the morning without them killing you.

2. Purchase a bag. A handbag, or a man bag, or a bum bag, but some kind of small bag. Use it to store your keys, wallet, phone, tissues, shopping list and anything else you need when out and about. Now a) never put down any of those items except in the bag, and b) don't go outside without the bag.

Presumably you don't lock yourself out with NONE of the above items, so remembering any one of them will cause you to remember the bag, which hopefully you leave by the door when you arrive home.

As a plus side, your clothes will look better because the pockets are no longer full of STUFF.
posted by emilyw at 2:51 AM on April 19, 2009


What everyone else said:
1. Always hang your keys on a nail right by the door when you get home, so it's always in the same spot and soon enough it'll be almost like muscle memory where you'll reach for the door with one hand and reach for the keys with the other.
And
2. Make a big sign on the door that will be right in front of your face that says "STOP AND GET YOUR KEYS YOU FOOL"

And yes, make sure someone has a copy of your keys

I also always do a check before leaving the apt:
Cell phone - check
Wallet - check
Keys - check
Chapstick - check
I know I always need these 4 things before I go anywhere, so if I only have 3, I'm probably forgetting keys.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:52 AM on April 19, 2009


"KEYS, WALLET, PHONE".. Before you leave the house.. It's the leaving the house mantra..

I can't even carry my important items in a purse, because the purse, not being attached to me quite as well as my pockets lends itself to not finding its way home. Keys and phone go in the pockets, wallet on the buttcheek..

Recall the panic "OHSHITOHSHITOHSHIT" split second realization that your keys are still inside the house each time you pull your door closed. Get in the habit of sticking your foot in the way of it closing long enough to do a 2nd key check.

I went from having every poor person I know keep a spare set to never losing my keys again so far for a few years!!
posted by missy_b at 9:44 PM on April 19, 2009


Never set your keys down. If they are not in your pocket, they're in your hand. No exceptions.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 8:51 AM on April 20, 2009


« Older Silicone smell in condo   |   Card games for three? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.